How can I use my external harddrives from abroad?
October 17, 2011 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I am going to be abroad for a while, 1-3mos, and I'd like to take my external hard drives with me to a place where they have different electrical outlet. Can I still access these drives without possibly destroying everything?

My work related stuff AND my digital entertainment is in the hard drive. I've always taken them with me, but now I am going to a place where it requires 220volts from 110volts(which is what I use now). The place I am staying at has the converter, but it's in the bathroom, and not really accessible from my room.

If I can't take these with me, without subscribing to iCloud or online data warehouse, (as I don't have much time to upload all my files), how can I find U.S. entertainment from abroad? I'd like to be able to watch my favorite shows...The Office, 30 Rock, Community, etc.

I am not technologically savy when it comes to vpn and all that online stuff...and if I leave my harddrives here, I'd like to keep them password protected, so others can't access them.

Any suggestions will be helpful.
posted by icollectpurses to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Don't they pull power from the usb on your computer? The power coming out the wall has nothing to do with that.

If they have external plugs (sounds unusual) that is another story, but read the fine print on the unit... a lot of stuff these days is manufactured for 110 - 200V so they don't have to build region specific stuff.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2011

Sorry, 240V
posted by Meatbomb at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2011

If your hard drive requires a mains power supply, it will have a voltage transformer. Unless you bought a dodgy unbranded drive from a dingy third-hand electronics store, the transformer will display the input voltages it can manage, as they are required to do so by law in the EU at least (and probably the States too).

For example, my external Western Digital adapter says "Input: 100-240V". I would bet £5 that yours says the same.

If this is the case, all you need to do is purchase a socket adapter for whichever country you are travelling in. The voltage transformer will detect the input voltage, and adjust automatically.
posted by fearnothing at 9:10 AM on October 17, 2011

Meatbomb: Plenty of external HDs have power cords of their own. All of mine do, because computer-powered ones, while much smaller and lighter, are also much slower.

icollectpurses: Most electronics today can handle 110-240 just fine; you'll need an adapter so it can plug into the different socket type wherever you are, but otherwise you'll be fine.

Entertainment will be... harder. Pretty much all the usual legit streaming/download sites/programs/services require you to be inside the US to get to US content; getting around this is tricky and will involve VPNing around and doing other techie things.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2011

Generally speaking, if your external drive has a 2.5" mechanism (laptop-size), it will draw power from the data bus, that is, straight off the USB or Firewire port on your laptop, with no separate power cord—so no problem there. If it has a 3.5" mechanism, it will require a wall-wart, but (as fearnothing said) will probably have a voltage-switching power supply, so all you would need is a simple plug adapter.

If your budget allows, it might be worth it to get a 2.5" external if you don't already have one, just for the packing convenience.
posted by adamrice at 9:22 AM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: My external HDs require outlet power source. fearnothing and tomorrowful, I'll check the boxes to see if they support up to 240. That'd make my life so much easier! Thank you!
posted by icollectpurses at 9:53 AM on October 17, 2011

It should be relatively easy to find a travel outlet/voltage converter at RadioShack or a similar place. Don't buy the super el-cheapo one, but it shouldn't run you more than $20 USD.

Something like this plus a surge protector should do it.
Note I am NOT endorsing the linked product. I know nothing about it. It was just the first one that came up on an Amazon search.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2011

Also, maybe this is obvious and you did it already but if you regularly travel with these drives and they have important data on them, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take the time to make another back-up somewhere. Shit happens.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:46 AM on October 17, 2011

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